Sharpen Your Thinking by Jumping Out of an Airplane

When your work team needs you at a crucial juncture, will you be the one to step up? When an opportunity comes calling, will you be in the position to seize the chance?

How do you put yourself in a position to succeed?

Answer: Invest in yourself to sharpen your thinking.

It’s tough out there. The globalized job market has young professionals competing against international competition, and rapidly changing technology has us constantly adapting to the next industry change. Getting better isn’t just a choice; it’s a necessity.

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Dashboard Reports Rotation

Only ten minutes into my call with the board’s treasurer and we had already brought up six different financial reports we could prepare and present at the next board meeting.  Each presented the organization’s achievements and shortfalls from a different perspective, and all presented information important for the board’s awareness and discussion.  But honestly, six reports, in addition to the regular financial statements presented at each meeting is, in my opinion, number saturation.  Particularly because many board members do not enjoy hearing about metrics, financial results, and other numerical values.

In my previous article “4 Fiscally-Responsible Changes You Can Make as a Board Treasurer,” I proposed that at each board meeting the treasurer should present a full set of financial statements and no more than two dashboard reports.  In this article, I propose that the organization prepare five different dashboards and a treasurer’s three-point report and rotate the dashboards at each meeting.  Here are the dashboard reports I have recently recommended to my clients:

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4 Fiscally-Responsible Changes You Can Make as a Board Treasurer

It is an honor being asked to be treasurer of the Board of a not-for-profit organization.  What seems like a time-consuming task is truly an opportunity to make a fiscal difference for the organization you are invested in.  As a CPA with an understanding of nonprofit experience, I have been lucky enough to serve on several Boards.

I served as a member of the Board for a particular nonprofit for about a year, allowing me to study the dynamics at the Board level and identify areas where, as a treasurer, I could make a difference.  When the new slate of officers was elected, I immediately discussed my ideas with the president. These are a few of the changes we immediately implemented:

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Creating a 5 Point CFO Report

Providing monthly financial statements to the president or executive director of a non-profit organization is essential to help them guide their organization to meet their strategic objectives, but the financial statements should be geared towards board members, too.  Unfortunately, many executives and board members may not understand what they are looking at.  To help these decision makers, the CFO can provide some pointers in a brief narrative report.

I call this a Board Summary CFO Report, which includes up to 5 points highlighting critical items on the recently provided financial statements.  Examples of areas I’ve recently covered are as follows:

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Help Wanted

This blog was originally published on the AICPA’s subsidiary,,website. Maribel is a member of the Advisory Board for and the AICPA Digital CPA Conference. As an advisory board member, Maribel helps empower CPAs and businesses for the digital age.

It’s no secret that staffing a CPA firm with truly qualified candidates has been a challenge for quite some time.   As I describe our recruiting troubles to others, they inevitably comment, “It should be no problem with the unemployment rates we have been experiencing.”  Not so.  The common concerns within our industry circles have always been the same: candidates need to possess accounting skills as well as common sense, organizational skills, attention to details, ability to close the loop, and a commitment to quality service.   Quite a package!  And for digital CPA firms, it is getting more complicated.

The digital CPA firm requires an additional skill set to the standard package.  Our next recruitment ad will say to candidates, “We want you if you have the following:”

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“My financial statements are always late!”

This is the number one complaint we hear from clients who reach out to us for services.  About a year ago we started working with a new client.  He reached out to us for our CFO services to help him understand whether his organization’s accounting work was too much for the one-person accounting department he had set up.  What we discovered was exactly what we find in most organizations for whom we do this type of assessment.  Borrowing the format from David Letterman’s “Late Show,” I have listed below the top 5 reasons we see for financial statements delivered late:

  1. Paving the cow paths.  The processes being used on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis get the work done, but are not the most efficient.  This is very typical with organizations that, at one point, had multiple staff members in their accounting department and consolidated those responsibilities to fewer employees or even one full-time person.  This is most common when the remaining person is also new to the organization.  For lack of understanding or fear of making a mistake, they continue following the same processes since they don’t have the time to question, think, and implement a more time-efficient way to perform the same task.

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